Page 1:The Heat is On – CPU Coolers Compared
Page 2:The Test Platform and Methodology - Four Cores under Load
Page 3:The Criteria - Cooling, Noise and Installation
Page 4:Zaward Sylphee - The Ugly Duckling
Page 5:Zalman CNPS8700LED – The real Catastrophe
Page 6:Foxconn NBT-CMI7759B C – The Design Snafu
Page 7:Zaward Vivo – The one that falls apart
Page 8:Thermalright IFX-14 – The Giant of Cooling
Page 9:Noctua NH-U12F – The Silent Type
Page 10:Scythe Kama Cross – The Sham Package
Page 11:Silverstone Nitrogon NT06 Lite – The one with its Screws loose
Page 12:Scythe Ninja Plus Rev. B – The Cutting Edge Cooler
Page 13:MSI / Watercool HydroGen – The User Friendly Solution
Page 14:MSI / Watercool HydroGen (Cont’d)
Page 15:Zerotherm Nirvana NV120 – The Hardware Killer
Page 16:Tom's Hardware Performance Results
Page 17:Cooling Performance
Page 18:Noise Level
Page 19:Weight and Fan Speed
Page 20:The Conclusion - Failure Rate of 45% - Thermalright and MSI/Watercool Recommended
Cooler Charts 2008
It’s been over 7 years since Tom’s Hardware first published a comparative test of CPU coolers. At the time, there was a distinct lack of awareness regarding the importance of this component and a pronounced dearth of critical tests with knowledgeable analysis. In December of 2000, we published the first CPU cooler comparison worldwide, comparing 17 different models. Compared to today’s technology, the coolers of that time seem like amateurish and provisional designs. Many of the companies that are well-established brand names in cooling today only became aware of this very profitable field through our tests. While some companies have since exited stage left, others have evolved into real heavyweights.
Things became critical for AMD in September of 2001 when we published an article detailing how CPU cooler failure could lead to instant destruction of Athlon processors. The situation was remedied by integrating a thermal sensor and a protective circuit on the motherboards. Meanwhile, Tom’s Hardware has regularly published CPU cooler roundups and comparisons, with the field of candidates growing each time.
Around this time, Zalman, a company that has meanwhile become a well-known and respected brand, was only just getting started. Our first review of the young company’s products weren’t very favourable, either. However, things have really turned around for Zalman over the past two years, and the company created a real winner with its CNPS9700, which it introduced in the middle of 2006.
But enough history for now. Now the curtain opens for our largest comparative test of 2007/2008. In no other class of components are the differences between individual products as pronounced as they are today where CPU coolers are concerned. After all, the prospective buyer can’t tell what kind of cooling performance to expect just from looking at a cooler, let alone its retail box. Of course, it’s just as impossible to tell how difficult installation will be – and if the buyers relied on the veracity of the colourful marketing promises on the box, they’d be lost anyway. At any rate, more than 30 companies sent us their current creations for review.
The biggest comparison of all times - More than 80 CPU coolers in our Tom's Hardware Munich lab
|3R System||Antazone||Arctic Cooling|
One thing that we can say in advance is that this group was good for quite a number of surprises. For example, some of the most well-known manufacturers, that have built their reputation on the quality of their products, have recently released some models that proved to be unusable in our test. Either they tortured our tester with a catastrophic installation procedure, disqualified themselves due to their (in our eyes) non-existent cooling performance or proved to be so loud in operation as to make any kind of concentrated work impossible.
Due to a number of abysmally bad test results that we have been witnessing over the past years, we have finally decided to introduce the test result “failed”. We hope this will help our readers to make educated decisions they won’t regret and save them the trouble of having to return unsuitable or simply defective products. In order to ensure that these “black sheep” stand out among the more than 80 test candidates, we have marked them accordingly in our product overview.
- The Heat is On – CPU Coolers Compared
- The Test Platform and Methodology - Four Cores under Load
- The Criteria - Cooling, Noise and Installation
- Zaward Sylphee - The Ugly Duckling
- Zalman CNPS8700LED – The real Catastrophe
- Foxconn NBT-CMI7759B C – The Design Snafu
- Zaward Vivo – The one that falls apart
- Thermalright IFX-14 – The Giant of Cooling
- Noctua NH-U12F – The Silent Type
- Scythe Kama Cross – The Sham Package
- Silverstone Nitrogon NT06 Lite – The one with its Screws loose
- Scythe Ninja Plus Rev. B – The Cutting Edge Cooler
- MSI / Watercool HydroGen – The User Friendly Solution
- MSI / Watercool HydroGen (Cont’d)
- Zerotherm Nirvana NV120 – The Hardware Killer
- Tom's Hardware Performance Results
- Cooling Performance
- Noise Level
- Weight and Fan Speed
- The Conclusion - Failure Rate of 45% - Thermalright and MSI/Watercool Recommended